A Distinct Lack of Hobbies

While my other half was away taking part in a charity walk this weekend, I found myself repeatedly filling the washing machine, hanging clothes out to dry, folding clean clothes, cooking, washing dishes, picking stuff up after the kids, taking out the rubbish, cleaning the bathrooms, and all the other chores you might associate with family life. While doing so something occurred to me – not that I don’t really have a hobby (unless you count writing a blog in the dead of night), but that I really need a hobby. I need something.

I have often thought of the Internet as an escape from the daily grind, and have used it as such since installing Compuserve on the beige PC in the junk room of my parents house in the early 1990s. I would sit – late at night – listening to the screeches and bongs of the modem handshaking with a distant server farm over the telephone network. Once logged in, a world of infinite rabbit holes opened before me, populated by huge numbers of like minded escapees. I discovered forums, bulletin boards, chat rooms, and all manner of conspiracy theory nonsense that filled my impressionable brain with utter rubbish. It was interesting rubbish though, and the people talking about it were like me.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this. I didn’t set out to write a history of “me on the Internet”. I really set out to describe how the nature of the net has changed – how personal blogs have changed – how people expect everything to be presented to them on a silver platter, instead of heading off across the web in search of new and interesting people. The Facebooks, Tumblrs, and Twitters of this world suggest suitable friends to us, promoting our own laziness so they might control what we consume. The end result ? – the rabbit holes grow few, and the fellow escapologists become increasingly rare.

So I’m wondering if I need to find something else to do – some other way of escaping for an hour of an evening. I know exactly what I’m about to suggest to myself, and have somehow written the previous few hundred words rather than getting straight to the point, because I’m very good at avoiding the idea.

Running.

I used to run two or three times every week – sometimes more. In the days before children I would leave the house early in the morning and run a five mile lap of the local countryside before heading home for a shower, breakfast, and the cycle to work. When I first started running I would think mostly about how awful I felt, or how far I had left to go while en-route. During the homeward leg I would encourage myself not to stop by thinking about how annoyed I would be with myself if I began walking. As the weeks and months passed, putting one foot in front of the other became easier, and I found a curious calm in listening to the rhythm of my breath as my feet hit the floor.

I’m not sure why I stopped running. We went from zero to three children overnight, and all concepts of “spare time” vanished. I did take part in the local five mile run the year after we had the children – in the hope of teaching them that some things are difficult to achieve, and that hard work pays off. I did the run without any training to speak of, completed the course, and discovered the children were having too much fun in the nearby play-park to have bothered noticing me finish and collect my medal.

Lets cut a long and rambling post shorter than it might be if I continue wittering on. I have a drawer in the bedroom filled with shorts and running vests. I have a pair of (very) worn running shoes at the bottom of the shoe mountain in the hallway. I have no excuses.

I looked at the clock a few moments ago, wondering if 10pm is too late to go for a run. I always used to prefer running in the morning. Maybe if I can scrape myself out of bed at 6am tomorrow, I’ll see how rusty my legs really are.

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